Ann Wigmore

Ann Wigmore

Ann Wigmore (1909-1994) was a holistic health practitioner, nutritionist, whole foods advocate, and a doctor of Divinity. With Viktoras Kulvinskas, she co-founded the Hippocrates Health Institute (rated as one of the top health resorts by the International Spa Industry). She was an early pioneer in the use of wheatgrass juice and living foods for detoxifying and healing the body, mind, and spirit.

According to her autobiography, Why Suffer?: How I Overcame Illness & Pain Naturally, she was first exposed to herbs and natural remedies as a child in Lithuania, by observing her grandmother. When Western medicine proved unable to solve her health problems as an adult, she began researching and testing various whole foods and diet approaches which, she says, not only cleared up her medical problems but changed her life.

Ann Wigmore died in a fire in 1993 , but a number of institutes carry on her work by offering educational programs and retreats, home study courses, recipes, books, and other resources, including:

  • Ann Wigmore Natural Health Institute, Puerto Rico
  • Ann Wigmore Foundation, San Fidel, New Mexico
  • Creative Health Institute, Michigan (near Battle Creek)
  • Living Foods Institute, Atlanta, GA
  • Living Foods Wellness Center, Michigan (near Lansing)
  • Optimum Health Institutes of San Diego and Austin

Celebrities who follow a raw food diet include actress Rue McClanahan, actor Woody Harrelson, model Carol Alt, designer Donna Karan, and Chicago-based celebrity chef Charlie Trotter. McClanahan is a regular visitor to the Optimum Health Institute.

Criticism

The mildest criticism, which even some proponents of Wigmore's diet admit, is "Boring and bland." More serious criticism includes charges that, while raw/whole foods are an important component of a daily diet, it is too extreme to be either healthy or practical. According to Julie Walsh, a registered dietitian and spokeswoman for the American Dietetic Association, "It's not supported by scientific literature at all. Man has used fire to cook food for ages. To refrain from heating or processing foods could even be risky. Some studies also suggest that cooked tomatoes release more phytonutrients than raw ones. The lycopene found in tomatoes is a strong antioxidant linked to preventing several different diseases — and it's released with heat."

In addition, medical professionals worry that claims of cures of serious diseases such as cancer may discourage individuals from seeking more conventional treatments that medical research has shown to be effective, thus actually endangering rather than helping them, similar to the hyperbole surrounding laetrile in the 1980s. Diane Stadler of the Oregon Health Sciences University in Portland says, "Some raw food web sites suggest that you can treat certain chronic diseases by consuming a raw food diet. That frightens me as a medical professional. Some people will accept that as truth and delay seeking appropriate diagnosis and treatment...[which] could seriously impact long-term well-being."

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